- Our healthcare is pretty good
Israelis like to complain, it’s a kind of national sport. The truth is that our health care is pretty good.
At the same time, there is a bizarre dichotomy between cutting-edge medicine and the overly complicated bureaucracy of socialized medicine. In hospitals that may have leaky ceilings and be in need of a paint job and new lightbulbs, you can find, in other wings of the hospital, laboratories in which groundbreaking experiments are taking place in partnership with the most innovative medical/biology/technology startups in the world. The things that are being worked on are nothing less than breathtaking.
There are pros and cons to everything – while everyone can get treatment, sometimes wait times are too long and not all illnesses are covered by the government mandate.
When seriously sick in Israel, it is necessary to have an advocate, a friend or a family member, who can navigate the process with or instead of the patient as dealing with the bureaucracy is sometimes enough to make a healthy person exhausted. In addition, as medical staff (particularly hospital staff) is overworked and underpaid, sometimes they need the help of an insistent relative to draw attention to what the patient needs.
There is an enormous debate about the balance between socialized medicine and private medicine in Israel. The doctors who have private practices are, more often than not, the same doctors who work in the public system so the private medicine does not provide better care, only faster treatment.
Health is a great equalizer. In Israeli hospitals, religious Jews and religious Muslims are treated side by side. The medical staff consists of Israelis of all backgrounds: Sabra Israelis, new immigrants from Russia, America, South America, and Argentina, Ethiopian Jews, Arab Muslims, Arab Christians… the entire spectrum of the Israeli population can be found in patients and caregivers.
There is no differentiation in types of treatment, quality of treatment or what is provided to the patient. The idea that there could be a differentiation is seen as abhorrent, inappropriate and simply ridiculous.
In the surgical department of one of Haifa’s hospitals, the Chief Surgeon is an Arab. He is world-renowned for his skill in laparoscopic surgery – doctors from all over the world come to Haifa to learn from him. His second in command is a Jew. Most of the surgeons on staff are Arabs. The man in charge of making sure all the equipment in the surgeries operate perfectly – including the laparoscopic equipment and the anesthetics – is an Arab.
- We built that
As you walk down the halls of the hospital, something stands out. Plaques on the walls, dedicating rooms, areas, and equipment to the memory of departed Jews.
The tiny State of Israel has minimal resources but the Nation of Israel, Am Yisrael, around the world, has enormous resources. We have much of what we have because Jews invested in Israel, in the people of Israel. They did it to honor the memory of their loved ones but at the same time, they pass on the legacy of life for their people – literally.
We are one family and we need each other. It is important to remember this. Everything we have came from hard work and sacrifice. Nothing came easy. We are all part of this amazing enterprise called Israel, together we make it the wonderful place that it is. We are Israel. We built this.